Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home takes in any dog or cat that reaches its door and works tirelessly to prepare animals for their forever homes, by providing necessary training. Gary, who rehomed our loveable Lurcher Zander in 2013, shares his story of the special bond with a rescue pet, and how a dog that may need help with training can end up making a huge impact in their owner’s life.
When I first saw Zander, I was still suffering from the loss of my love Cassie, a tan female Lurcher.
So, of course, I went from rescue centre to rescue centre looking for an exact copy to replace her. After visiting many shelters all over Scotland, it became apparent that finding a replacement Cassie was not possible. Coming from Edinburgh myself, I went to Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home and met one of the Kennel Assistants. She introduced me to many dogs but the first one I saw in the kennels was Zander. He was chasing his own tail and I knew straight away that this was a sign of frustration. Later I learned his teeth were the shape of the bars, and he had to have a tooth removed. He wanted to be free.
I thought, mmm maybe. The Home told me everything they knew about Zander and his behaviour. They told me that he had a problem with lunging at new dogs when he met them and although he had been rehomed before, he had been returned when his new owners couldn’t cope.
I took the chance. For the next nine months we struggled as he lunged at every new dog we met. I live in the country yet he just could not settle. I had learned from my first dog to persevere, I just had to give Zander plenty of time to adjust. I used a trainer locally, Sarah from SoDogs, who brought her trained show dog and guess what? No reaction whatsoever! That’s when I realised there was hope. I started to think to myself; what’s the difference between this dog and all of the other dogs we’ve met?
That was the moment that I changed MY attitude to HIS problems. Blue, a local collie who Zander had reacted to when we first met, is now Zander's best friend. He has many friends now: Millie, Saul, Cara, Murphy and more. All these dogs needed was for a close sniff and then Zander knew it was ok to meet them again later.
Since then, yes we still have the usual new dog meet and small lunge but it is nothing compared to before. Zander has settled into his life now. Living in the country, he has ample opportunity to run around and exercise his natural hunting tendencies whenever we see deer, rabbits or hares. He also loves nothing more than snuggling up on the sofa or in front of the log fire.
During this time, my elderly mum had to go into a local home and every time we visited Zander became the centre of attention. He brings so much joy to everyone he meets. My mum sadly passed on the 3rd Jan but she often said, “I just love that dog” and that’s all I needed to be sure he was at the home he deserved.
They say when dogs pass they go into a rainbow. So why not see that rainbow while they are part of your life in this world? I was lucky I admit, but it takes hard work every day with Zander. At 14+, Zander is starting to fade into old health, but I love him and that’s the reason we are still together.